Time to Transubstantiate!
First you get down on your knees,
Fiddle with your rosaries,
Bow your head with great respect,
And genuflect, genuflect, genuflect!
So I've been to a Catholic Mass now, and I've seen transubstantiation in action. (It turns out that I've seen it once before, at C's aunt's funeral.) I learned a new word--concelebration, which is when more than one priest officiates. I heard WAY more about the blood and body of Christ than, strictly speaking, I really needed. I realized, once again, why they start 'em young with this stuff--before any of the critical faculties kick in. I was appalled at the obvious expense to which the parents of many of the girls had gone in order to dress the girls like little brides (of Christ, presumably)--one girl, in particular, had a veil/headpiece that had to be a hundred bucks, professionally done hair, an elaborate dress, white stockings with little crosses embroidered in them at the ankles, and possibly a touch of makeup. It wasn't clear to me how this display was related to the supposed meaning of the occasion--i.e., the first communion with one's savior--but I'm cynical that way. (Why weren't all of the kids in identical, simple, white robes, for example?)
There was a party afterwards, hosted by the ex-wife (for which we helped pay). C's mother, sister, and brother-in-law were there, as was I, but everyone else was part of the ex's family. I have to give credit where it's due, too: her family was very nice to me--one of her aunts even came up to me to congratulate me on the upcoming nuptials. I'm sure it's difficult for everyone sometimes, but they could be way, way worse. Most important, to me, is that the kid clearly wants me around for these events. I figure that it's up to us adults to behave. (I took a lot of the family pictures outside the church, with C's and the ex's cameras, so that (a) both parents could be in the pictures and (b) I wasn't. There is a good picture of me and the kid, though.)
During the Mass, C leaned over and whispered, "I owe you, big time." I did not dissuade him from that sentiment--handball would have been preferable--but the event was interesting in an anthropological way, even as it reinforced my skepticism.